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Physical Therapy Faculty Receive Honor of Distinction
Arnold BellAdrienne Jackson

December 6, 2012

Certified physical therapy specialists rare in U.S. and Florida, not at FAMU

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties has (ABPTS) certified Florida A&M University (FAMU) assistant professor of physical therapy Adrienne Jackson in geriatrics and recertified professor Arnold Bell in sports physical therapy. This honor is significant. With more than 13,000 licensed physical therapists in the State of Florida, Professors Jackson and Bell now belong to a small group of only 353 licensed physical therapists in the entire state who are board certified as clinical specialists (52 in geriatrics, 34 in sports physical therapy).

The ABPTS is a component of the American Physical Therapy Association and is responsible for overseeing the credentialing of physical therapists with advanced clinical skills and knowledge as board certified clinical specialists in eight different areas.  Specialty board certification is one of the highest honors in the physical therapy profession.

“I am extremely proud of this accomplishment,” said Jackson. “It means an awful lot to me being that only a small percentage of physical therapists in the United States are board certified. The process was grueling, but it was well worth it.”

Jackson, a native of Montgomery, Ala., received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from FAMU and her doctorate degree in physical therapy from the University of North Texas.

Her years of clinical experience in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities coupled with her advanced education in gerontology well prepared Jackson for the rigorous ABPTS examination. In fact, Professor Arnold Bell taught Jackson at the FAMU School of Allied Health Sciences.

“I am not surprised as Dr. Jackson is among the best and the brightest students that I have ever taught,” said Bell, the first African-American physical therapist in the nation to become a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in any area.

This is Bell’s second recertification in sports physical therapy since 1992. He is a two-time Olympic sports medicine practitioner (1984 – Los Angeles; 1996 – Atlanta) who has provided health care to athletes at FAMU and FAMU High School for three decades. The New York native holds several degrees including a bachelor’s from Springfield College, a master’s from Columbia University, a physical therapy degree from New York University and a doctorate in physical therapy from Florida State University.

“It was a demanding process…” said Bell about the recent ABPTS exam. “…but the effort was well worth it to have a continuous distinction as a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy.”

According to Cynthia Hughes Harris, dean of the FAMU School of Allied Health Sciences, many accredited physical therapy educational programs do not have core faculty members who are certified clinical specialists (only 38 percent according to the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education).

“The fact that FAMU has two faculty members who are certified clinical specialists attests to the high caliber of instruction students receive in the classroom,” said Hughes Harris.

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